Last September, the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov put pen to paper on a 5-year, $45 million extension. The agreement locked the winger in Minnesota through the 2025-2026 season. The price tag garnered plenty of criticism across the league. Wild fans, league insiders, and even Kaprizov’s contemporaries argued that $45 million was a ludicrous amount for a player with, at the time, less than a full season of NHL experience.
It was a calculated risk from Wild GM Bill Guerin. There was plenty of uncertainty as negotiations on a tough deal stalled well into the offseason. In the end, though, the two sides hammered out a deal that both sides what they wanted. Kaprizov got a handsome payday, while the team secured his services for longer than a three-year deal that would've walked him to UFA status.
Despite the sticker shock, one year later, and the extension already looks like one of the best contracts in the entire NHL. Kaprizov obliterated almost every single-season scoring record in the Wild history books last season. His 108 points were good for fifth-most in the NHL ⏤ more than players like Auston Matthews, Artemi Panarin, Steven Stamkos, etc. He also joins the exclusive club of 16 active players with 100-point seasons to their name.
We really could go on for days with Kaprizov stats and records. It seems silly now that his extension garnered skepticism from fans and analysts merely a year ago. The perception around the deal rapidly went from necessary overpay to massive bargain over the course of last season. In fact, instead of debating the value of his current contract, we’re already speculating on what his next long-term contract could look like.
If you watch the Wild with any sort of regularity, you know how irreplaceable Kaprizov is to the franchise. The consistent production, dazzling moments of skill, and the tenacious work ethic and attitude he plays with ⏤ most Wild fans will say he’s worth every penny and some.
So just how valuable is his contract? The data suggests it’s one of the most valuable contracts in the league. The Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn ranked it the tenth-best contract in the NHL, projecting a total surplus value of $16.5 million over the remaining four seasons ($4.1 million per season).
Keep in mind that these are only projections, and he could very well continue to shatter everyone’s expectation of him. Think back to last season, when he started the season with no goals through 8 games, and just 11 points through 15. Without a similarly slow start, who knows what kind of numbers he’s capable of putting up in future seasons?
Needless to say, Bill Guerin and his staff knocked it out of the park with negotiations last summer. They held their ground, hammered out a fair deal for both sides, and landed a huge bargain. It’s even more impressive considering the murkiness surrounding the team's cap situation at the time. The front office couldn’t afford to botch the long-term extension of the most talented player in franchise history, which they certainly did not do.
Performance wise, Kaprizov is up there with Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Johnny Gaudreau, etc. in the upper echelon of players in today’s NHL. He’s one of the 15 or so most valuable players in the league, yet he’s currently the 34th highest-paid player in the league (and falling). His cap-hit is lower than the likes of Jack Eichel, Brayden Point, and Mitch Marner. That’s not to say those are clearly inferior players, but you could make a very compelling case that Kaprizov is the more effective player on a cheaper contract.
Look a little further, and you’ll see some clearly inferior players making substantially more than Kaprizov. For example, the Dallas Stars have over $19 million tied up in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for the foreseeable future. The Toronto Maple Leafs have $11 million tied up in John Tavares for the next three seasons. Jeff Skinner, the obvious candidate for the worst contract in the league, is tied down in Buffalo for 5 more seasons at $9 million per.
The point is, Kaprizov’s contract is even more valuable considering the massive misuse of cap room across the NHL. Very rarely does a player of his caliber come along, and when they do, they aren’t cheap. So while that $9 million through 2026 may have seemed like an overpay at this time last year, it has quickly transformed into one of the best bargain contracts in the NHL right now.